There is a desire within each of us for happiness and peace. Our souls are not at rest when things are out of order. When life events don’t go according to plan or when we face suffering or pain we feel robbed of our purpose. Weren’t we made for something better than this?
This mentality is not Western. It’s not just because we have watched too many TV shows or movies where everything always works out in the end and right conquers wrong. It’s because deep inside we know were made for something better.
Many people seek to escape the harsh realities of life by adopting philosophies that promise it is possible to get to a place where nothing and no one can truly hurt or disappoint them anymore. I know of many who refuse to say or even listen to anything negative because they believe maintaining a positive mindset at all times will literally make their lives better. But Christianity, doesn’t promise anything of the sort. In fact, Christ promised us the opposite: “In this world you will have trouble,” he said. “But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
The hope of the gospel, the hope we must cling to, is not that our lives will be peaceful and perfect here on earth but that in Christ we can find the strength to keep going. In Jesus, we find hope and even joy to sustain us while we wait for something better.
The weight of the world loses it’s power over us when we realize we don’t have to fight to escape it. Read that sentence again. We don’t have to fight the feelings, the frustrations, anxieties, heartaches . . . we can accept them without allowing them to destroy our happiness. We can lay them at the feet of the Savior and ask him for the strength, not to deny they exist, but to deal with them in the right ways.
I have become convinced that the greatest enemy of our souls is hopelessness. When Israel wandered in the desert for over 40 years, waiting for God to lead them to the promised land, the greatest battle they faced was for their faith. Their journey had already been so long and so hard. They had experienced slavery for 400 years . . . why didn’t God just fulfill his promise to them? Why did they have to go through even more before finding their peace and rest? What was the point?
In spite of the fact that God was providing everything they needed along the way to sustain them as they waited, many lost hope. The provisions just weren’t enough for them.
The question we must ask ourselves is: are the provisions God is making for us enough? Are we willing to accept God’s plan for our lives and continue to faithfully follow him, even when the journey is harder or longer than we anticipated? As I have shared with some friends recently, one of the greatest breakthroughs I have had in the past few years was when I realized that although there is no limit to the suffering we (or those we dearly love) might face in this life God’s mercy and grace and power are also limitless. When the journey is too hard for us, when our strength is failing, he can and he will make provision for us. He sustains us . . .
The key to our spiritual survival is to pursue the “daily bread” he freely offers us. If we don’t, we will pursue provision elsewhere . . . and find it is not enough either. Israel built a golden calf . . . what will we do?
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. . . And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. . . For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. . . they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. . .” Hebrews 11
“let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:22-23
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:35-39